Sleeping disorders are very common for a lot of people. It affects people’s sleep in different ways. Narcolepsy is also one of them. Here is what you should know about narcolepsy before going to a sleep specialist.
What Is Narcolepsy?
Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is narcolepsy? Well, it is a neurological disorder which controls sleep and wakefulness. Narcolepsy is a sleep disorder that causes you to sleep very little or almost none at night time, but it causes you to feel very drowsy during day time. It sounds like ordinary insomnia, but it causes a lot of psychological problems as well.
Sleeping during the day and staying awake at night is not a good lifestyle to adapt. It can affect your mood, social activities, work, school and it can make you very tired as well. Not to mention, a lot of people suffer from anxiety of not being able to sleep at night and having to forcefully stay awake during the day as well, because they have errands to run and work to do. This can cause much tension and annoyance.
Rest is very important for your brain and body, and if you don’t seem to get any rest due to narcolepsy, this can lead to a lot of health problems in the future.
Causes of Narcolepsy
The immediate cause of narcolepsy is unknown. What is known, is that it is caused by the under-stimulation of the thalamus region. Under-stimulation of the thalamus can inhibit the deficiency of hypocretin, a neuro-transmitter which tells your body to stay awake during the day. It is suspected that narcolepsy is an auto-immune disease, and that it runs in genetics, which means it could be hereditary. In a nutshell, the deficiency of hypocretin can lead to day time drowsiness and sleeping problems at night.
Symptoms of Narcolepsy
Some of the very common symptoms of narcolepsy includes the following:
Excessive Sleep During the Day
Narcolepsy can lead to you sleeping a lot during the day. This is because of the deficiency of hypocretin which inhibits sleep during the night and causes you to become drowsy during the day. This can be a huge lifestyle change, and it is not a good thing to let it proceed.
Sleeping Problems at Night
Because of deficiency of hypocretin, during the night, you can experience a lot of insomnia and difficulty in falling asleep. Hypocretin inhibits sleep and forces the brain to stay, which is why you can’t fall asleep at night.
If you have narcolepsy, then you might also feel weakness in the muscles around your neck, on your face and sometimes, on your arms as well.
Narcolepsy, in worst cases, can lead to sleep paralysis. Sleep paralysis is a condition where you are wide awake, but you are unable to move your body. You can only move your eyes rapidly, but your body becomes jammed.
Lack of sleep can cause hallucination and you see a lot of things that aren’t real. This is basically your brain’s doing, when it hasn’t had enough rest at night. This can cause you to become delusional as well.
Treatment of Narcolepsy
There is no such treatment for narcolepsy. Because there is no determined cause for narcolepsy, what you can do is to relieve the symptoms. Some things you can do are as follows:
- Taking sleep medicines can help induce sleep at night. Since you experience difficulty in sleeping at night, taking sleep medications or anti-histamine like drugs, which cause drowsiness, can help with narcolepsy.
- Having a routine also helps your brain to get used to sleeping. Have a set schedule and go to bed when you actually feel tired. Implementing a routine will help you to be more on track with your sleep.
- If you feel weakness in your muscles, then you can opt for physical therapy as well. your muscles will commence movement within no time at all.
- Taking antidepressants will help with your hallucinations and will also calm you down.
There you have it! Now you know everything basic there is to narcolepsy, whether it’s the causes, symptoms or treatments. Visit a sleep center MD if you think you have the symptoms or if you need a treatment for narcolepsy.